There is one type of cuisine that New Jersey, along with the rest of the Northeat, lacks and that is barbeque. One cannot drive too far down the street without spotting a diner, an Italian bistro, or a bar with superior finger food. However, when barbeque can be found in Jersey one must question how authentic and fresh it is. For me, the most crucial factor is how much love has gone into it. I recently moved back to South Jersey where BBQ is pretty sparse but not impossible to find when you travel a little off the beaten path.
I can already say with great confidence that I had one of the best if not THE best meal of the summer on the very first day preceding the end of a Rutgers semester. My friend John and I were traveling down Rt. 322 East, also known as the Black Horse Pike, which carries commuters and vacationers to Atlantic City. As we entered the little town of Folsom, we spotted several smokers oozing out smells from the front of a tiny BBQ joint called Henri’s “Hotts.” Words would do no justice if I attempted to describe these scents. It was only 11:30 A.M. when we pulled up, a half hour before the restaurant opened but Henri, who was tending to the smokers outside, graciously opened his doors to us.
As John and I studied the menu, our mouths began to water. We each decided to order a combo platter, which consists of a diner’s choice of 2 meats, 2 sides, and cornbread. I ordered the smoked beef brisket and smoked pulled pork accompanied with baked beans and onion rings. John ordered the smoked beef brisket and smoked BBQ chicken along with macaroni and cheese and collard greens. We were eager to digest every single smell that may escaped from the kitchen and wafted near our noses.
When Henri brought out our selected dishes we excitedly, yet nervously, opened up the Styrofoam containers revealing an enormous mass of food. We immediately sank our teeth into our meats and side dishes and felt an overwhelming sense of love at first bite. As Henri approached, John praised him with an approving “Goddamn!” We exclaimed to Henri that this was by far the best BBQ we had ever had, admitting that we had almost gone to Famous Dave’s which was a few miles further down the road. Henri told us “that would have been a lethal mistake” and noted that the only thing that Dave’s does right is “bring their food out to you in what it belongs…a trash can.”
This glorious meal contained absolutely no flaws. The brisket, along with the chicken and pork, were smoked to savory perfection. The baked beans were packed with flavor. The macaroni and cheese was seasoned with a perfect hint of garlic and the cornbread was nice and moist, unlike most cornbread that leaves your mouth drier than the Sahara Desert. The prices at Henri’s were quite reasonable. Our meals were only $14 each and were accompanied with a free ice tea (available with any eat-in purchase).
It is an extreme rarity when neither John nor I can finish our food and this marked the first time of the summer in which we had to take our remains with us (of course they were eaten in the car about an hour later). If you ever find yourself traveling the back roads of South Jersey, be sure to pay Henri a visit. He will not only provide you with a warm welcome but a satisfied tummy with some of the best Texas barbeque on this side of the Mississippi!
Henri’s is open Monday 4PM-8PM, Sunday 12PM-8PM, Tuesday-Thursday 12PM-8PM, and Friday/Saturday 12PM-9PM. Henri also offers full catering services, along with family and party packs, serving 2 to 25 people. In addition to BBQ fare, Henri also offers fried chicken, lump crab cakes, and cheese steaks. His restaurant is located at 1003 Black Horse Pike Folsom, NJ. Stop in and be treated with royalty!